I 80 Lunch
In the end, we actually stopped at La Fornaretta, in Newcastle and enjoyed same thoroughly. herself had a meatball sandwich, on foccacia, more or less, and I had an eggplant sandwich, ditto; we both had espressos (espressi?); place wasn't terribly busy (Tuesday not in tourist season w/very little snow to be seen when we went by ski areas)--but the wait staff and owner seemed to know most of the other customers by name
Katrina's on 49, 1 block north of 80, is closed on Mon-Tues, but maybe hit it on the way back if you're hungry. Extensive menu and inventive daily specials. Parking is tight, you may have to walk 1/2 block or so. Huge portions and a regular stop of locals. Small room, maybe 15-18 tables, no patio seating. Breakfast & lunch only.
We were in Auburn 11/29 and Ikeda's was slammed at noon. Just be advised.
I would second Drooling Dog, except it's closed on Tuesday.
I like to catch it when I'm heading west. It's the last Colfax exit, on the south side of the freeway and east of the freeway interchange.
I'm always nostalgic about Ikeda's. I liked it better when it was a cruder fruit stand in the early 1980s. Still good but expensive.
Auburn has an In - N - Out.
I also rec. IN & Out , it is hard to see as you exit so be watchful. Ikeda's is fine & they do have a store to buy funky dried fruits & candies but it does take them a long time to make the burger , but it is fresh. If you are still hungry when you get to Reno try Beto's a quaint mexican place on 5th in reno . Get off at the Keystone exit. They are very casual and inexpensive and have good food!
Ikeda's in Auburn makes a good burger. In Colfax, the Drooling Dog BBQ has decent 'cue, and the Trackside Tavern is a funky dive bar with good garlic fries and very cheap beer. Once you get past Donner Summit there are lots of ski resorts so you're in captive-audience territory; prices start going up while quality goes down. But if you're still hungry when you hit Truckee, Tacos Jalisco isn't bad.
13500 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603
Drooling Dog Bar BQ
212 N Canyon Way, Colfax, CA 95713
Trackside Tavern & Grill
247 Railroad Ave, Colfax, CA